What Kind of Games Are You Playing With Your Children?

The following puzzles, board games, other games, and activities were my favorites when I grew up in Romania. When the video games first came out I thought that they were going to replace all these games. Even though board game companies have been trying to publish digital versions of their most played games children still prefer playing games with the actual objects. I like using them sometimes in my class as part of a warm up, a reward for completing correctly a class assignment, receiving a high score on a test, different class activities, or as a competition between students.

Jigsaw Puzzles are good for any age. Also check http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-jigsaw-puzzles for online puzzles.puzzle-pices

Rubik’s Cube  rubik-cube  and Speedcubing speedcubing-twilightsojourn

Speedcubing – This child is solving the cube with one hand.

The Rubik’s Cube was the 1980s phenomenon and still is one of the most famous brain teasers for both children and adults. I only knew how to solve the 3x3x3 cube. Later on, more sophisticated versions came out and were called “Magic Cubes”.

“Magic Cubes”   magic-cubes megaminx


Mikado or “Pick – up – Sticks” is a game I used to play a lot with my friends and my family. We called it “Marocco”.sticks

It is a game of precision and concentration. Wikipedia explains the rules: “the sticks are bundled and taken in one hand that touches the table/ground. The release creates a circular jumble. Now one stick after another should be taken up without moving/touching others. The take away could be by hand, possibly through pressing on a stick’s tip or if one has already picked up a special stick (Mikado/Mandarin), it could be used as a helper, possibly to throw up another stick.

It is allowed to stand up on but not to leave the own place. A bad throw could be rerun and the rules should be kept strict in respect to moving sticks to enjoy the game. On a fault the turn ends (the last stick taken is not counted). The next player bundles and drops the sticks again. After several rounds, normally five, the one with the highest score is the winner.”                                                    mikado-game

Rummikub – I played this game a lot with my family. We called it “Remi”. My dad loved it! A few years ago, I introduced it to my students. I was surprised to see that it was a new game for them. rummikub-game

Crossword Puzzles crossword-puzzle-image

are still my favorites. They can be used in many ways. A lot of people seem to like “Sudoku”.

Scrabble – This cross – word board game is always great to develop vocabulary by learning complex words, spelling, and critical thinking. scrabble

Games with “Playing Cards” – There are so many games that can be played and created with playing cards. I use them for my students to practice the four basic operations with with integers, fractions, team building, and other activities.Shuffling the deck

Mancala is a counting game that kids seem to like. Some of them play this game very fast. This game can be easily constructed using an empty twelve-compartment egg carton (remove lid) , two small cups, and 48 markers such as beans, small stones, or buttons.wooden_mancala_board


abacus When people hear about abacus they associate it with China. It is indeed a Chinese method of counting. We used it in elementary school. I understand that there are techniques that allow the use of the four basic operations and calculating square root and cube root “at high speed”. There are currently schools teaching students how to use it. (Wikipedia)

Backgammon backgammon-game This was a game that I played sometimes with my dad or my brother. I considered it more of a “male” game.

Chinese Checkers chinese-checkers I did not like to play the traditional Checkers but I could not stop playing Chinese Checkers.chinese checkers etimpuBattleship (on paper) battleship-on-paper

I loved playing this game. I find it helpful for my students when they need to practice plotting points.

Battleship (board game) – photo below: battleship-board-game

We did not have the board game but we played a lot the game on paper.

Monopoly is a game that doesn’t need any presentation. Almost everyone I met liked to play Monopoly.


I was never good at Chess. I am surprised to see that children are interested in this game. I was surprised to find out that the students that knew how to play this game they learned it from their grandparents. I personally think that parents and teachers should encourage children to play the actual games and not the digital version as much because they represent an excellent exercise that stimulates the brain. Children can use various strategies that are different depending on the opponent’s playing level that are unable to use when they play against a computer. Games that use objects also offer an excellent opportunity for family members and friends to have a face-to-face interaction, spend time together, and build lasting memories.


Featured Image: www.pixabay.com

#s 1 and 2 Photos: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

#3 left – Speedcubing – Twilightsojourn.jpg, author: en:User:Twilightsojourn

#4 right – by Matěj Baťha – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2578977

#5 left: http://www.pixabay.com

#6 right: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons) by http://cubemeister.com/about-cubemeister/

#7 Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons) by Gerwin Sturm from Vienna, Austria – Rubik’s Cube Collection, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43648765

#8 www.pixabay.com

#9 Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons) by  Immanuel Giel

#10 Photo was cropped to show the main part of the game: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons), Author: JuneAugust

#11 http://www.pixabay.com

#12 Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons), by Krystle Fleming, http://flickr.com/photos/36521955290@N01/87257/

#13 Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons) by Alan Cleaver at http://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/sets/72157606825074174/

#14 Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons) by Cburnett

#s 15, 16, and 17: http://www.pixabay.com

#18 https://www.facebook.com/COPILARIA80/photos/a.1482649085188400.1073741949.239523079501013/1482690731850902/?type=3&theater

#19 Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons), transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons. The original uploader was Splattne at German Wkipedia

#20 Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons) by Actam – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3581865

#21 Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons), by Official U.S. Navy Page from United States of America Sgt. Abbey Perria/1st Marine Logistics Group – U.S. Navy Capt. plays the board game Battleship with a patient at Children’s Hospital., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52091752

#22 http://www.pixabay.com

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